McGuinty Government Strengthening Mental Health Services



    New Investments Will Help Thunder Bay Children And Youth

    THUNDER BAY, ON, April 3 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is strengthening
mental health services for children and youth in Thunder Bay through new
investments of more than $600,000 that enhance treatment and care in this
area, Minister of Children and Youth Services Mary Anne Chambers announced
today.
    The new funding is part of an additional $24.5 million annual investment
to address gaps in local service needs and reduce wait times.
    "Our government is committed to providing children and youth with special
needs, including mental health challenges, with the support they need to
achieve their potential like other children and youth," said Chambers. "We
believe it is important for children, youth and their families to access
supports and services as close to home as possible.
    "Our government is working hard on many fronts to make a real difference
for our province's most vulnerable young people and to respond sooner to their
families' needs and the community's needs in a holistic approach," said
Chambers.
    The additional $24.5 million investment will be shared among
community-based organizations that provide services to children and youth with
social and behavioural problems, mental health disorders and other special
needs, including autism spectrum disorders (ASD), in three ways:

    
    -   A five per cent increase in base annual funding to child and youth
        mental health agencies across the province, totalling $18 million, to
        reduce wait times and help address cost pressures
    -   $4.5 million in regional annual allocations to address community
        priorities based on the ministry's new Policy Framework for Child and
        Youth Mental Health, of which Northern Ontario will receive $229,000
    -   $2 million annually that would enable agencies to provide immediate
        children's mental health support when a local community is faced with
        an extraordinary crisis or circumstance.
    

    "Today's announcement of a base increase for children's mental health
agencies is very welcome news and brings much needed hope to families,
agencies and communities, said Tom Walters, Executive Director of Children's
Centre Thunder Bay. Many families in the District of Thunder Bay have been
trying to cope with increased family pressures as a result of layoffs in our
community and, as a result, demand for services at our agency has increased.
This announcement will better enable us to provide them with much needed
support."
    Through this additional funding, the government is building on its
previous investments in more than 260 child and youth mental health agencies
and 17 hospital-based outpatient programs. As of this year, the government
will have increased funding for these services by nearly $80 million since
2003-04.
    "The reality is that difficult economic circumstances in Thunder Bay and
north western Ontario are putting more children at risk than ever before,"
said Michael Gravelle, MPP for Thunder Bay - Superior North. "This increase in
funding will help to reduce wait times and provide greater assistance for
children desperate for help in our communities."
    Ontario's Budget 2007 includes additional investments that will build on
and benefit children and youth with special needs and their families,
including:

    
    -   $4 million more for Children's Treatment Centres starting this year,
        on top of $10 million announced in the 2006 budget, increasing the
        government's total annual funding to these centres by nearly
        $30 million since 2003-04
    -   Increased funding to approximately $130 million, nearly tripling the
        support for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their
        families since 2003-04, as well as supports for more teachers,
        therapists and coordinators
    -   More than doubled the number of children receiving autism
        intervention services since 2003, resulting in more than 1,100
        children receiving these services
    -   Expanding opportunity by providing more assistance to children in
        lower income families through the $2.1 billion Ontario Child Benefit.

    "Whether it is bullying or violence in schools, depression, anxiety or
various other mental health issues, too many children face the challenges of
these invisible barriers," said Bill Mauro, MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan. "By
strengthening the community programs that support these young people, we can
help more children and youth succeed in school and become healthy, productive
adults."

    Disponible en français

                           www.children.gov.on.ca
    




For further information:

For further information: Tricia Edgar, Minister's Office, (416)
212-7161, (416) 573-7728 (Cell); Anne Machowski-Smith, Ministry of Children
and Youth Services, (416) 325-5156

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ONTARIO MINISTRY OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH SERVICES

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